Charges dropped for two police officers after African-American man’s death in 2020

The dropping of charges against two white police officers charged after the death of African-American Rayshard Brooks in 2020 was met with incomprehension, just as another policewoman pleaded guilty in a similar case.

Rayshard Brooks, 27, had died of his injuries on June 12, 2020, in Atlanta after Officer Garrett Rolfe shot him following an altercation.

Rolfe was then charged with “murder,” and fellow officer Devin Brosnan was charged with “assault and violation of his oath of office.”

The death of Rayshard Brooks a few weeks after the death of George Floyd, killed in Minneapolis by another white police officer, led to an outburst of anger and the resignation of the Atlanta police chief.

The tragedy had occurred after the two officers were called to dislodge Brooks, asleep in his car, from the drive-through lane of a Wendy’s restaurant.

The young man, who was intoxicated, was cooperative for more than half an hour before the situation escalated when the officers tried to handcuff him, grabbed a Taser from one of the officers and ran.

He then fired the taser at them and Garrett Rolfe shot him twice in the back.

The specially appointed prosecutor for the case, Peter Skandalakis, announced Tuesday that he had concluded that in the face of “rapidly changing circumstances” the officer’s response had been “objectively reasonable” and that the charges against the two officers would be dropped.

Lawyers for Rayshard Brooks’ widow denounced the “confusing” decision and announced plans to pursue other legal remedies, according to local station FOX5, and the U.S. civil rights organization NAACP demanded that the case go to a grand jury.

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“There is no statute of limitations on a murder case, and there will be no statute of limitations on our efforts to get justice for Rayshard Brooks,” commented Georgia state NAACP president Gerald Griggs.

Breonna Taylor

Also on Tuesday, in a separate case, a police officer pleaded guilty to providing false information in order to obtain a search warrant whose execution led to the death of another African-American woman, Breonna Taylor.

Kelly Goodlett, who has since resigned, admitted to “falsifying” the search warrant application to a judge with another police officer, and then lying “to cover up the false statements” she made. She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

On March 13, 2020, three police officers from Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, had broken into the home of Breonna Taylor, 26, in the middle of the night as part of a drug trafficking investigation of her former boyfriend.

Her new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, thought they were burglars and fired a shot with a legally owned gun. The police returned fire and Breonna Taylor was shot about 20 times.

Breonna Taylor’s death had not attracted much attention until the death of George Floyd. Her name and that of Rayshard Brooks had been chanted at all the anti-racist demonstrations that summer.